Danny Garcia: A tremendous performance through eight rounds turned into merely a gritty victory for Garcia, who survived a rally from a surprisingly tough Zab Judah to win a unanimous decision and retain his RING and sanctioning-body titles Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y. Still, the junior welterweight from Philly is collecting more and more believers with his sound performances. Garcia (26-0, 16 knockouts) dominated Judah in the first two thirds of the fight, consistently landing hard bombs to the head and body of a very good, experienced opponent. Judah seemed to be on his way out in both the fifth and sixth rounds only to survive and then rally in the closing rounds, which turned a wipeout into a competitive fight. Garcia also demonstrated his resilience down the stretch to pull out another important victory. He isn’t a great fighter but, at 25, he’s a very good one who will only get better as a result of learning experiences like the one at Barclays Center.
Zab Judah: Judah (42-8, 29 KOs) turned his reputation for fading in the face of adversity on its head before his hometown fans in Brooklyn. Judah seemed to be folding on cue in the middle rounds, as his legs twice went wobbly and Garcia went in for the kill. A funny thing happened then, though: Judah, fit and determined, decided he wasn’t going anywhere and began to turn the tables on his tormenter a few rounds later. His courage might be the most memorable aspect of the entertaining fight. Alas, he also followed a pattern by losing yet another important fight. He is now 11-8 in major title fights, including losses in almost all of his biggest events. That will be a significant part of his legacy. He’ll also be remembered for remaining a titleholder or top contender for a remarkable 15 years. And he proved with his performance on Saturday that the impressive run isn’t quite over even at 35.
Sergio Martinez: One must applaud Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) for enduring a great deal of punishment yet rallying in the final rounds to retain his middleweight championship against Martin Murray on Saturday in Martinez’s native Argentina. It was sad to watch, though. Martinez’s 38-year-old body seems to be telling him that the end is near, perhaps the result of a natural 154-pounder fighting one big middleweight after another. He fought with a repaired left hand and right knee only to injure the hand again in the fight, he said. And while he obviously can still box, his legs and punches seem to be a step slower than in the recent past. He’s no longer the fighter who beat Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams in consecutive fights in 2010. Again, he won the fight. That’s the primary objective. He had to work incredibly hard to do it, though. How many more fights like this could he endure?
Martin Murray: Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs) made a significant statement in defeat. The Englishman opened the fight cautiously but ultimately opened up and caused significant damage, losing by identical scores of 115-112 on all three cards. I had it 114-113 for Martinez. In other words, had Murray had a little more energy in the final rounds, he might’ve been middleweight champion of the world even though the fight was in Martinez’s homeland. He was that close. Murray sounded philosophical immediately after the fight but it must be crushing to smell glory only to see it slip away. The good news is that he has proved in disappointments against Felix Sturm (draw) and Martinez that he is one of the best in his division, evidently better than countrymen and Martinez knockout victims Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin. No one will be surprised if he wins that world title one day soon.
MOST FORTUNATE II
Amir Khan: Khan (28-3, 19 KOs) seems to have made some progress under new trainer Virgil Hunter, who sharpened the former junior welterweight titleholder’s defensive skills and overall technique. He used distance well and seemed to be more disciplined in his unanimous-decision victory over Julio Diaz on Saturday in Sheffield, England. Khan still has that chin, though. Diaz (40-8-1, 29) knocked Khan down in the fourth round and hurt him badly several times in the final rounds, bringing back memories of Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia each time. Make no mistake: Khan is a gifted boxer and athlete; his hands and feet are remarkably quick. However, his chin is the equalizer for an opponent as solid and experienced as Diaz. That reality is a plus in terms of the excitement Khan brings to the ring. It doesn’t bode well for him, though. It seems only a matter of time before he ends up down and out again. And, a bit like Martinez, one wonders how many more brain-rattling punches he can take.
Bermane Stiverne(23-1-1, 20 KOs) made a nice statement by batttering Chris Arreola (35-3, 30 KOs) in a unanimous-decision victory Saturday in Ontario, Calif. The Haitian-born resident of Las Vegas can box and punch. He would seem to be in the mix of big-money heavyweight fights. Arreola was as game as ever but this was a significant setback, one from which it will be difficult to rebuild. The fear here is that Arreola will look back on his career one day and realize that he wasted his considerable talent to some degree because he didn’t work hard enough. … Deontay Wilder (28-0, 28 KOs) continued to behave like a monster, this time stopping Audley Harrison (31-7, 23 KOs) only 1:10 into their fight on the Khan-Diaz card. He could have a tremendous future. Someone needs to teach him to be more disciplined, though. His wild punches are amateurish even if they’re lethal. He might not get away with that against a decent heavyweight. … Peter Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs) looked sharp in his seventh-round knockout of Fernando Guerrero (25-2, 19 KOs) on the Garcia-Judah undercard. Someone suggested Quillin be called a “knockdown artist.” He has 10 – yes, 10 – in his past two fights, six against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and four against Guerrero. That’s impressive – and exciting. Quillin has the makings of a star.